Pictured left to right, Paweł Grzesik, NACSCU; Brian Branch, World Council; Brian McCrory, ILCU; Michael Taggart, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU; and Matt Bland, ABCUL, meet at the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU in Brussels to discuss draft directives for EU-wide legislation.
BRUSSELS — Representatives from the European Network of Credit Unions (ENCU) and World Council of Credit Unions met with policymakers in Brussels this week to discuss critical regulatory issues related to draft directives concerning data protection, the proposed pan-European banking union and deposit guarantee schemes currently under consideration in the European Union.
"Everywhere credit unions are seeing increased regulatory burden," said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO who joined the ENCU delegation in Brussels together with Michael Edwards, World Council chief counsel and vice president for advocacy and government affairs. "While we believe strongly in rigorous prudential discipline and risk management, we need to constantly dialogue with policymakers to educate them about the proportionately high compliance cost of such rules for smaller and less risky credit unions."
ENCU representatives included Matt Bland, policy and communications officer, Association of British Credit Unions, Ltd. (ABCUL); Andrus Ristkok, president, Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives (EUCC); Brian McCrory, director, Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU); and Paweł Grzesik, Warsaw representative of the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions in Poland (NACSCU).
The ENCU group visited representatives from the European Commission and from the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, to discuss a new regulation that would help harmonize data protection laws in the EU's 27 member states and would require most organizations that deal with sensitive personal data to appoint a data protection officer. Small and medium businesses with fewer than 250 employees would be excluded from the requirement unless they conducted regular and systemic customer monitoring as part of their core business.
ENCU and World Council representatives sought clarification on the regulation's application to credit unions and suggested ways to achieve the regulation's objectives without unreasonably burdening credit unions. The group emphasized to policymakers that financial services, not managing personal data, are the core business of credit unions.
In anticipation of Ireland hosting the EU presidency, ENCU delegates also met with Michael Taggart, financial services attaché, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, to address proposed directives that would excessively burden credit unions.
The EU is seriously considering expanding authority of the European Central Bank and other EU banking supervision entities to engage in direct supervision of all banking institutions in the EU. ENCU and World Council representatives advocated for local, national regulatory bodies to have day-to-day regulatory and examination responsibility as well as to retain jurisdiction over credit union business activities, corporate governance and related activities. ENCU delegates noted to Taggart that credit unions do not operate on a cross-border basis, unlike systemically important commercial banks that are certain to be subject to increased EU-level supervision.
ENCU representatives also addressed with Taggart the EU's forthcoming mortgage lending requirements, which would require significant training of credit union personnel. ENCU representatives stressed that credit unions not engaged in purchase-money first mortgage lending, which includes virtually all EU credit unions, should be exempt from such requirements.
The group also met with MEP Peter Simon, a key member of the influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee who is the rapporteur of the draft directive on an EU-wide deposit guarantee scheme.
ENCU is a network of national credit union associations in Europe and World Council representatives who educate and engage with EU policymakers and other stakeholders on legislation that affects credit unions. ENCU was formally established in 2010 and is based in Brussels. Learn more at www.creditunionnetwork.eu.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.